I still remember grooving and headbanging to ‘Dhan Tan Na’ as a kid and then growing up and being stupefied watching Shahid Kapoor’s performance in Vishal Bharadwaj’s “Kaminey.” “Kuttey” is a spiritual sequel to the 2009 film. Written by Asmaan Bharadwaj and Vishal Bharadwaj and directed by Asmaan, the film is a quirky commentary on what greed for money and corruption can make you do, with an ironic twist at its end. The episodic screenplay will definitely grab your interest, especially with the strange titles that are attached to them. At an initial glance, the titles of these episodes—”Sabka Malik Ek,” “Ata Kya Canada,” and “Moong ki Dal”—sound very off-putting; it is only when we start grasping the highlights of storytelling that we realize the significance of them. The film attempts a classic five-act structure seen in a traditional English play with a prologue and an epilogue attached to it.
“Kuttey” is a dark, twisted tale dotted with blood and gore. Every character has a gun in their hand, and they do not hesitate to take their shots. The main event in the film revolves around an ATM van full of cash and three separate gangs of people trying to steal that money (amounting to several crores of rupees), but the catch lies in the fact that two of these gangs include police officers. The film begins with a corrupt sub-inspector being hired by a local politician to murder his opponent. The crisis arises when he goes rogue and steals bags full of drugs from the person he was sent to murder and fails to complete his job. Now his and his partner’s jobs with the police force are at stake. Here, a senior police officer comes into the picture. She is corrupt and promises them that she can make all charges against them go away; the only catch is that they shall have to pay up a bribe amounting to one crore rupees each.
The rogue sub inspector plans to loot the ATM van, which was under the protection of a private security agency. His plans are sabotaged when a young couple with connections to the big-shot politician mentioned above sees it as an opportunity and intervenes to steal the money out of that van so that they can start over a new life with each other in Canada. But their plan is only half successful because the senior police officer enters the scene, and there is a final showdown between all three parties on one side and a group of Naxal fighters on the other. These Naxals had appeared in the prologue earlier. The recall value of all the characters in the final showdown gives this sequence of the film the extravagance of a grand finale with bullets being fired from all possible directions. Asmaan Bharadwaj’s love for bloodshed and spillage seems to be inspired by any Quentin Tarantino film.
The first part of the film seems really slow, but the last 20 minutes compensate for all the sloppiness the viewer encounters in the first half. The film has an excellent background score, and it receives brownie points from me for a brilliant reworking of ‘Dhan Tan Na,” too. Having said all that, the film can be seen for the stellar cast it bears. Here is a list of the important characters and the actors who play them.
Arjun Kapoor As Gopal Tiwari
Gopal Tiwari is a corrupt sub inspector of the police. He is corrupt and would not leave any stone unturned to earn some extra cash. He has dealings with underworld dons and dishonest politicians. His greed for money makes him go out of his way with orders that he got from the politician who had asked him to kill his rival—a drug supplier. He went rogue and stole the bags of cocaine from the drug lord he was sent to assassinate. His partner keeps discouraging him from disobeying orders. But the bags were eventually discovered by the police, and unfortunately, the drug lord he was sent to murder did not die. This landed his and his partner’s jobs in jeopardy. In order to save his job, he undertakes the plan of looting the ATM cash van, and all hell breaks loose. Gopal has certain quirks that add to the humor of the film; for instance, he is shown as an ardent Hindu who fasts on Tuesday and would not carry out his assassination attempt before conducting a little puja. In another instance, he is seen singing a lullaby to his daughter while plotting to steal the cash from the ATM van. Gopal often thinks of himself as the smartest person in the room, which he probably is, but his divine machinations and his destiny make him a loser in his own game at the end of the film.
Arjun Kapoor is as intense, funny, buffoonish, and suave as Gopal. He made his debut with “Ishaqzaade” in 2012 and is best known for his roles in films like “Gunday,” “Ki & Ka,” “Sandeep aur Pinky Faraar” and “Half Girlfriend.”
Tabu As Pammi
Pammi Sandhu is a hotshot police officer who is very close to the higher police officials. When Gopal and his partner Pajji are facing the danger of permanent suspension, she agrees to save their positions only if they pay them Rs 1 crore in cash as a bribe. Later, she engages Pajji to steal the cash out of the van herself because a little more cash would help her buy a house that is bigger than her matchbox-like staff quarters. Pammi has been characterized as a woman who inherently bears malice toward anyone who doesn’t function to satisfy her own interests.
I love to watch anything that has Tabu in it. She is probably the best actress who has been working for over three decades now. She is best known for her roles in films like “Chandni Bar,” “Maqbool,” “Haider,” “Drishyam,” “Andhadhun,” and many more.
Kumud Mishra As Pajji
Pajji is Gopal’s partner in crime. He is a veteran of the police force. During the initial years of his career, he was posted in a Naxal-infested area. After an elaborate attack on the police by the Naxal freedom fighters and his refusal to comply with the corrupt actions of his seniors, they do not allow him to get promotions. In fact, he doesn’t like to take or give bribes himself, but he has to take part in illegal dealings because he is part of a corrupt system. Kumud Mishra is convincing as Pajji and probably the brightest star in the film.
Radhika Madan As Lovely Khobre And Shardul Bharadwaj As Danny
Lovely Khobre is the daughter of the politician Khobre, who is seen in the initial scenes of the film commanding Gopal to assassinate his rival. Danny is just a servant in their household, charged with taking care of their security. Both these youngsters are in love. Since the Khobres would never accept Danny as their son-in-law, they arranged Lovely’s marriage to the son of a builder. But Lovely is optimistic that if only they could drag themselves out of the reach of her family and fly all the way to Canada, they would be able to settle themselves properly. They grab the first opportunity they see to steal several crores of rupees in cash from the ATM van. In a strange turn of events, they become entangled in a final showdown.
Honestly, Radhika Madan and Shardul Bharadwaj did not have much to do. But their contribution to the film is still sufficient and significant. Radhika Menon is known for her roles in films like “Mard ko Dard Nahi Hota,” “Patakha,” and “Angrezi Medium.” Shardul Bharadwaj is known for his roles in “Eeb Allay Ooo!”, “Unpaused,” and “Trial by Fire.”
Apart from this film, which features Konkona Sen Sharma as the Naxal leader Laxmi, Naseruddin Shah as the politician Khobre, and Ashish Vidyarthi as the security consultant Harry, they have been criminally underused. “Kuttey” would have turned out to be a meatier and grittier part had these parts been more elaborate. In spite of that, “Kuttey” is a dissident film and is now available on Netflix.